The government will table new laws on pollution control and energy efficiency in the Dewan Rakyat soon, says Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin. NSTP picture by Luqman Hakim Zubir.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will table new laws on pollution control and energy efficiency in the Dewan Rakyat soon, said Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin.

"The new law on Pollution Control to replace the Environmental Quality Act 1974 will see greater enforcement powers and stiffer punishments," she said.

Yeo was officiating at the opening ceremony of the Evolution of ESG Investing seminar, hosted by Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) and Bursa Malaysia Bhd here today.

Also present were Bursa Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Muhamad Umar Swift, Bursa Malaysia chief commercial officer Selvarany Rasiah and Maybank Kim Eng Group chief executive officer Ami Moris and Maybank Investment Bank Bhd chief executive officer Fad'l Mohamed.

Provisions, which deal with restrictions against air, noise, land, inland waters and marine pollution, as well as open burning, will see heavier fines under the proposed new act.

These range from a maximum RM5 million fine for discharging oil into Malaysian waters to a RM100,000 fine for open burning offences.

Most of the pollution offences will soon come with up to five years in jail, with a daily fine of RM5,000 for as long as the offence continues after the issuance of a notice.

A trust fund is also being mulled to reward whistleblowers facilitating more effective enforcement.

The proposed law will also provide the authority to issue a “stop work” order on any premises owner indulging in illegal dumping of scheduled waste that threatens the environment or public health and security, frequently flouting the law and the.

Failure to abide by the order will result in a fine of up to RM500,000, five years in jail or both under the proposed new law.

Currently, offenders convicted under Section 34A of the Environmental Quality Act, are only liable to a fine of not more than RM500,000 or a prison term of up to five years.

The government now wants to raise the penalty to RM1 million or a maximum five years in prison - or both for failure to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

Last month, Yeo presented Energy Efficiency and Conservation Bill at the Cabinet Meeting and it was approved.

This new law, to be tabled before Parliament, seeks to further incentivise building owners to reduce energy wastage to be more efficient via adoption of green technologies.